We recently had the chance to ask a few choice questions to Brian Kesley, bassist for the Brooklyn-based Rocket & The Ghost. Special thanks to Kiyoshi Matsuyama, the band’s lead singer, for manning the camera for us.
Meanwhile, don’t forget to check out our review of Rocket & The Ghost’s latest EP.
Enemies are a band I had never heard of before, but am glad I got to check them out. Embark Embrace is a cool album, mostly because I find myself ignoring the lyrics and focusing entirely on the creativity of the instrumentals they have going on. This is by no means an instrumental album, there are some very indie-sounding vocals that are present in some of the tracks but not all.
The exploration of various musical styles has led these guys to an upbeat sound. It’s sounds sort of jazzy, sort of math, and very positive and uplifting for some reason. It almost sounds like it could be the music for an animated feature or something like that. Good luck picking a band that these guys sound like, because I sure as hell can’t. I hate to make this reference once again, but this is another band that sounds like it could have been the soundtrack to a Dreamcast role-playing game or something like that. That sort of jazz-influenced experimental sound.
To be perfectly honest, these guys don’t even need vocals at all. They are interesting enough on their own. It’s sort of a risky move to be an all instrumental act in genres that are not typical of that, but I feel that these guys could really pull it off well. I’m not saying that the vocals are bad or anything, I’m just saying they they don’t really bring anything special to and already abundant table of interest. Nonetheless, Embark Embrace is a pretty cool album. - Rob G
Spiteful, crushing, and heavy as hell: the only way I can describe The Uncertainty of Meaning, Sirena’s debut We Are Triumphant release. Rooted in central New Jersey, these hometown heroes are finally stepping it up to a place they deserve to be with this hard hitting metalcore release.
The Uncertainty of Meaning delivers eight furious tracks of mosh fuel. Six of these tracks are new songs, while two are re-recordings of previous songs that help showcase their new single vocalist’s cleans. While it is not common for a band to benefit from losing members, the dual vocalist concept is very silly and gimmicky to myself. Sirena is a band that has a far greater benefit from a single vocalist, especially one who can perform the cleans and screams at a level such at this.
The album overall has a feel of earlier Woe, Is Me sans the sub-drop overkill. I’m a total sucker for orchestral sampling, and theirs accents the tracks very nicely without being reliant on it to make the band the way some modern bands tend to function.
Also, the wobbling guitar manipulations are an interesting twist that Sirena has made their signature sample style to an extent.
Overall, this is a solid debut for them and shows a lot of promise for the future of the band. The name “Sirena” will definitely be more prevalent in the national music scene with this album, very good stuff. - Rob G
Brian Dale Allen Strouse, singer-songwriter-guitarist-extraordinaire of Philly-based The Lawsuits was kind enough to answer a few questions for Emo at Heart — check out what he had to say below. And don’t forget to check out our review of their latest album, Cool Cool Cool.
Listening to Cool Cool Cool is like a field trip through the last 50+ years of musical history – Was that on purpose? Did you have a different plan going in for the composition of the album?
Ha. Nah, very little on Cool Cool Cool was done on purpose. That doesn’t sound right. No, We did not enter the recording process with the intention of doing this - whatever this is. We wanted to make the best possible set of recordings that we could make at the time.
When you’re writing a song, do you get a musical idea first? And then tune your lyrics to that style? Or is it the other way around?
It can be either, neither or both. I’ve written songs that started from just lyrics, and I’ve written songs that start with just music. No blueprint for how to.
Is it difficult to balance the vocal responsibilities between you and Vanessa? Is there any ever conflict over who will take lead on a song?
Vanessa’s a great vocalist- probably the best singer I’ve ever performed with. Not because of her tone or range or anything like that…it’s her ear. She knows what she’s doing when she’s doing it, if that makes sense. Plus, her and I have been singing together for years, our connection with melodies and all that stuff is fairly tight. I would expect her to take more lead songs with future recordings - I’d like to close the gap a bit, and make it more of a 50/50 on lead.
Was there anything left out of this album? Something that didn’t fit or just didn’t make the cut?
Yeah, there were quite a few songs that were left off the album. Two songs from our Numbers EP - “Trying to Forget You” and “In Deep with the Queen” were both re-recorded. They just simply didn’t make the cut. Come to think of it, there was about another album’s worth of recorded content that was left off the album.
You played a record release show in Philadelphia a few nights ago – how was it playing in front of a hometown crowd for such a special occasion? Do you have any favorite Philly venues – either as a performer or a fan?
It was a very memorable night. There’s very little I would have changed about that night. There are a bunch of great venues in Philadelphia - Johnny Brenda’s was the perfect spot for that album’s release, while also being one of our favorite spots to play and attend.
Will you be setting out on a big tour to support the album, either this fall/winter or early next year?
We’ll be hitting various spots on the east coast in support of the album through the Spring of next year. Also, we’re in the process of recording new music for an early 2014 release. The plan is to create and release quality content at a more consistent and frequent pace.
Finally, where would you like to “be” by this time next year? What will 2014 hold for The Lawsuits?
We certainly will have another album under our belts, more content, and a greater understanding of life - hopefully.
Emo at Heart is proud to present it’s first ever video album review! Kicking it off is the new self-titled debut EP from Rocket & The Ghost.
I thoroughly enjoyed this EP — it has incredible range and variety — and I sincerely hope a full-length album is not in the too-distant future. - J.
Since their last release, Fear, two-years ago Dead in the Dirt has been on a regular tour regimen leaving a trail of bloodshed in their wake. Arguably one of the most exciting grind bands to come up in the last few years, it’s safe to continually argue that their follow-up, The Blind Hole, has been one of the most anticipated extreme albums of 2013.
This 22-track, 24-plus-minute record is relentless from start to finish. Hank Pratt’s drumming throughout the album can be described as many things, and today I’m going to emphasize it as sheer brutality. Unsurprisingly, most of the arsenal of compositions on The Blind Hole tend to be fast paced, but even slower jams such as “Strength Through Restraint” and “Caged” showcase Pratt in a natural attempt to decimate your eardrums. The song structures throughout this album are not typical of your average grindcore band. It’s fast and metal enough to be adored by fans of later Nasum and early Leng Tch’e. It’s punk enough and tinges in the doorway powerviolence as well to the point where this album could be promoted on a tour with bands like Iron Lung and maybe even Infest. But the songs themselves are not composed by a way of just piecing random notes and chords together with no distinctive melody or shape. While aggressive, so much of what The Blind Hole brings to the table is showcased by riffs you can find yourself memorizing and being able to hum along to later; making it a solid collective composition all of its own right.
Though one of my favorite things about Dead in the Dirt on The Blind Hole, that I can’t say about most bands entirely at all, are the vocal deliveries. I much more prefer bass guitarist Bo Orr’s blistering highs on this album than I did in Fear, and I think most listeners will as well. They accentuate the hammering lows provided by guitarist Blake Connally; and the opposite sort of assistance can be said toward the other as well. I typically hate dual lead vocalists in any setting that isn’t King’s X, but ton top of Connally and Orr being a well working guitar section, their vocal trading is just top notch of any band in any extreme music right now. The last big piece of the puzzle that makes The Blind Hole an instant top-of-the-list-year-end records is the production work done by Andy Nelson. The album’s sound is nicely polished while still being incredibly gritty and dirty. It’s the sort of production I’m very much a fan of – as it makes the album listenable for a wide range of audiences, while still not giving up any integrity of what sort of overall feel a band is trying to go for. At the end of the day, everything about The Blind Hole is going to be memorable in extreme music for years to come. - Dustin
Within the last couple of years, a new kind of music has been emerging within the alternative rock scene. It’s kind of hard to describe it because it seems to take characteristics from emo and traditional scream (or skramz if you have a genre label superiority complex) as well as every step these genres have taken in their evolution. Have Mercy's latest release, The Earth Pushed Back, is a very good example of this kind of influence blending. I don’t really know a good genre to call these kinds of bands since a new trendy genre names hasn’t really emerged yet but, when it does, Have Mercy will fall under that category.
It’s hard to describe a band like this sometimes. It’s definitely not generic, but at the same time it’s definitely not notably experimental or progressive. The Earth Pushed Back delivers ten tracks of well thought out and emotionally-driven music that the broken-hearted can absolutely relate to. It has the slower grit of emo, the powerful ambience of post rock, and the vibe of punk rock in some aspects. It’s almost like The Lawrence Arms decided they wanted to play in an Explosions in the Sky worship band, but couldn’t quite shake the punk tendencies that describe their sound. There are some softer mellow parts with lots of delay effects, some straight up hard hitting parts, and even some parts that remind me of Bright Eyes. I almost feel like this band has the sound Title Fight has been slowly drifting towards since they started bringing it back to the traditional emo sound. My iTunes was kind enough to let me know I’ve listened to it fourteen times through now, so I would be lying if I said I did not enjoy it. It is absolutely worth checking out. - Rob G